I slept in Saturday morning, only to find as I got up, that my phone had a bunch of messages. As I turned it on, my wife said from the kitchen, “Sean Connery died.”
That’s what half of the messages I got were about.
I said, “How many memes are we going to see about how 2020 can’t get worse? But…Connery was 90.”
My wife added, “And nobody has heard from him in a while, so…”
Yet instead of writing a piece like everyone else is going to, where they list all his movies and why they were so great, I’m just going to write the random thoughts that pop into my brain.
I was a teenager when Connery won the Oscar for The Untouchables, and it might be the moment I realized I should be a film critic. Here’s why. I was the only person around that was upset by his Oscar win. Don’t get me wrong, Connery was fine in the part. But that year…I would have rather seen Albert Brooks win it for Broadcast News, or Denzel Washington for Cry Freedom (not that we can cry over that, as Denzel would eventually win some gold statues). I never saw Morgan Freeman that year in Street Smart, but…I felt they gave it to Connery because he was older and it was for his entire career, not just that performance. Hell, that year, I felt performances by a supporting actor that were better than Conner also included Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride), Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket), Charlie Sheen (Wall Street), and don’t laugh at me, but — Jerry Orbach for Dirty Dancing. Aside from putting Baby in a corner, everything he did in that film was outstanding.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a fan of Connery. I paid $90 for an autographed James Bond photo years ago. He’s my favorite Bond, although I think that has more to do with the scripts he was given than how he played them. I loved the Timothy Dalton films, but didn’t care for his look. I loved Pierce Brosnan’s look for Bond, but didn’t care for those films. Daniel Craig — looks more like Steve McQueen than James Bond, but…he’s serviceable as 007. And hey — the current Bond movie has had a delayed release because of Covid. Why not release it now in honor of Sir Sean Connery? Oh, and speaking of all the Bonds, the fact that George Lazenby is still alive, makes me think something I’ve thought about regarding the Beatles — there’s a possibility that Ringo might someday be the last Beatle standing. Could this happen with Lazenby, who played Bond only once? (side note: he was actually good in the part, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is actually a pretty good film)
Often when someone dies, I think of weird coincidences. There’s nothing about it being Halloween that pops out, except for the fact that it was on October 31st that River Phoenix died — who played a young Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade with Connery.
I thought about how just two weeks ago, actress/model Margaret Nolan, who was painted gold in Goldfinger and was slapped on the butt by Bond, passed away at 76.
Everyone found it odd that we hadn’t heard from Connery for so long. Sometimes actors retire and disappear. Gene Hackman retired from acting, wrote a few novels, and I haven’t seen him in a decade. And we always hate that. I much prefer when there’s an actor I like, that continues to do interesting work. One of my favorite movies this year was Driveways, and it was the last performance from Brian Dennehy. Yet you can’t begrudge an actor for not working until the day they die. I just find it hysterical that one of the last things Connery did was the voice of James Bond in 2005 for a video game of From Russia With Love (although voice over work is certainly an easier grind).
As a teenager, I read a book about actress Lana Turner. I had no clue who she was, but my mom was reading it. I thumbed through it and there were a few interesting Hollywood stories so I ended up reading the whole thing. There was a story about Turner having an affair with Sean Connery, her co-star on a film. Turner was married to a guy in the mob that everyone feared, especially when he showed up on set to watch her work. One day she had a black eye from him hitting her. When he showed up on the set that day, Connery walked up to him and punched him in the face, knocking him out. Everyone on set figured Connery was a dead man. Ha! This is Sean friggin’ Connery! If Blofeld or Oddjob couldn’t take him out, what’s a goon with a reputation going to do?
My best friend died last year, and I remember when we were in college, I started dating his girlfriend’s roommate. The most fun we had were the theme parties these USIU students would throw. One of them was a James Bond theme party, and you had to show up in costume. I merely painted my finger gold and said I was “Goldfinger.” We were given toy guns with suction cup darts and a various point system. As different Bond movies played on the screen, we were to shoot the Bond villains on screen. You also got bonus points if you hit the Bond girls (hey, it was women making these rules). One of the girls at the party said, “Ya know, Sean Connery is going bald now, but…I think even bald, he’ll still be hot.”
And that’s another thing I love Sean Connery for. He single-handedly, convinced women they’re attracted to bald guys. I always argued the point with women. I’d explain, “You don’t like bald men, you like Sean Connery. And you don’t mind that he’s bald.”
As a man who will be bald in about five years, I will always appreciate him for that. As a movie critic who has loved films my whole life, I enjoy the work he’s given us. Even cheesy movies like The Rock (Nicolas Cage), he made better by being in them. And who doesn’t laugh thinking about Will Ferrell playing him on Saturday Night Live, with that thick accent?
Now, on this Hallows’ Eve — I like to think of Connery joining forces with the Bond I grew up with, Roger Moore — and fighting that big Spectre in the sky.